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what to wear… senior edition

This may come as a surprise but my favorite portrait sessions involve SENIORS! I photographed my first senior – Casey Alexander love you girl! – in 2010 and I’ve caught the senior bug! Since 2010, I have had the chance to meet so many wonderful seniors who keep inspiring me to continue offering these types of portrait sessions. Today I want to share with you a few tips that I go over with my seniors before their session. This post has been brewing for quite a while and I hope you find it helpful as you are preparing for your portraits. So without further ado… Here is what to wear for your senior pictures!

Tips on what to wear for your senior portrait session

Let Your Personality Shine

I love that no two people are alike – and that means no two senior sessions are alike! When planning what to wear for your senior pictures the most important thing you can do is let your personality shine. If you don’t wear dresses DO NOT pick out a dress for your session. If your favorite pair of shoes happen to be a beat up pair of cowboy boots – WEAR THEM! You want your photos to look and feel like you do. If you pick clothes that are meaningful and true to your personality you are not only going to love your photos but you are going to have a blast at your session and feel super confident in front of the camera. So pick clothes you LOVE and you WANT to be photographed in.

Comfort is Key

Be mindful that during your session you might be asked to sit, stand, lay down or even jump. My goal during the session is to get a mixture of candid and posed shots. I am able to achieve a lot of this by getting you to move around. Try on your clothes before your session and make sure you are comfortable and clothes are not itchy or irritating.

Don’t forget about your shoes! All of my senior sessions usually happen outside and we will do some walking to take advantage of different backgrounds and settings at your location. I am not saying to scrap your favorite pair of heels because they aren’t easy to walk around in but maybe bring a pair of sandals that are easy to slide on when going from location to location. Trust me – your feet will thank you!

Taking Clothing Choices a Step Further

I always suggest at least bringing two outfits:

  1. #1. Casual- think everyday wear something you would be caught wearing to school or out with friends.
  2. #2. Dressier- think about an outfit you would wear out to a nice dinner or church – something that you would “dress up” with.

Be mindful of the colors you are choosing as well. If you choose to wear a white dress, do not pick a white top for your more casual look. Picking out outfits with different colors will help you get more diversity in your portraits.

Accessorize, Accessorize, ACCESSORIZE!

You would be surprised how much an outfit can change when you add an accessory. Scarfs, headbands, cool socks, a funky belt or chunky necklace can really enhance an outfit. Accessories are also a great way to bring your personality into a shoot. For example, I love scarfs! I have quite the collection growing in my closet and over the years I have acquired some that have become a staple in my wardrobe. If I were getting my senior pictures taken, I would make sure to add a scarf into one of my outfits. This would help me create a unique look that is all me 🙂

More is… BETTER!

Don’t be afraid to bring multiple outfits to your senior session. I love to work with seniors to figure out what would look best with their location and help mix and match clothes and accessories to enhance their pictures. It helps to have a fresh set of eyes look at your wardrobe. I know I sometimes get stuck in a rut with my clothing and I think I have NOTHING to wear and then my sister will take a look in my closet and come out with an outfit I would never think of – it is fantastic! Never underestimate the power of a fresh set of eyes when it comes to creating outfits.

Don’t forget about…

Last but not least… lets talk hair, nails and makeup. I always suggest to my seniors that they should wear their hair and makeup how they normally do. However, if you decide to get your hair and makeup done professionally that is okay too! Senior pictures are very important part of your senior year so why not look and feel your best? I would suggest if you do decide to go the professional route make sure you are 100% happy with the end result. I remember having my hair done the first year I went to prom and I HATED IT. I still look back on those photos and cringe. If I would have just spoke up while I was at the hair salon I would have walked away with a hairstyle I really loved. Don’t be afraid to speak up and have a conversation with your stylist about the look you are going for. Be mindful that some of the poses might involve using your hands so make sure you don’t forget about your nails. If you decide to go all-nat-ur-al double check your nails before the session to make sure they are clean and free of dirt. If you decide to have your nails painted, check to make sure the nail polish is not chipping or smudged before the session begins. Taking care of the little details go a long way in ensuring a senior portrait session is a success 😉

Being prepared the day of your session helps you relax, enjoy your portrait session and feel confident in your pictures. Ah writing this post has gotten me so excited for my sunrise senior session THIS SATURDAY!!

Have you had a chance to schedule your senior session? Hop on over to my senior questionnaire and get started planning your session today!


Hey you! I am Brittany Pelegrino, a North Carolina based senior portrait and wedding photographer. I help create ah-mazing photography experiences that make you feel beautiful and confident in front of the camera!